Wizards vs. Bobcats (Dec 20):

The Washington Wizards began the post -Gilbert Arenas era in style on Dec. 20 with a blowout win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Playing in front of a sparse Verizon Center crowd, the Wizards used a 21-2 run in the third quarter to down Charlotte 108-75 and snap a seven-game losing streak.

Despite the absence of Arenas and rookie John Wall, who’s out with a reported broken foot, Washington shared the ball effectively as five players scored in double figures. Nick Young, now the starting shooting guard, led the team with 21 points in his new role as featured scorer.

When asked how his now new team compares with his old, Wizards coach Flip Saunders told reporters after the game: “Gilbert was so good as far as with the ball, that our players had a tendency that when Gil got it, to stand and watch. Now I think our guys are moving more…now the guys know they can’t rely on (Gil) and his ability to take over situations and so they have to rely on our offense and that is what Nick is doing. He is making good quick decisions.”

Wizards vs. Bulls (Dec. 22):

Washington returned for another home game on Dec. 22 against the Chicago Bulls but the result wasn’t so positive. Chicago exposed Washington’s lack of an inside presence as Bulls forward Carlos Boozer exploded for 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 87-80 over the home team. Young again led the team in scoring, dropping 22 points but couldn’t help the Wiz overcome a 30-point second half. Newly acquired forward Rashard Lewis, who joined the team in the trade with Orlando for Arenas, made his first appearance in a Washington uniform. He scored eight points but missed all five of his three-point attempts. For a player known for his dead-on shooting range, Lewis’ first outing was a little disconcerting but the coaching staff believes the 6-foot, 10-inch forward is just finding his groove.

“I think he’s (Lewis) going to fit in,” Saunders said after the game. “Rashard is a direction-oriented player. When he understands where he can go and where he’s going to get his shots, that’s where he is going to be effective. He missed some threes tonight, but he’s just getting comfortable with everything we’re doing. Every time he shot, because that’s what he can do, the whole arena expected him to make it. He’s going to be okay. Like I said, he’s still learning as far as what we’re doing. We just have to keep on working to get comfortable.”

After a 1-1 week, Washington dropped to 7-20 on the season. The Wizards will return to action on Dec. 26 with a road game against the San Antonio Spurs.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO